My dear brethren and sisters, what a beautiful day. What a wonderful day this is, what a wonderful time to be alive, and what a wonderful time to be a member of the Church.
Even though my eyesight isn’t as good as it used to be, as I get older I find that my vision improves, that I see the larger picture more clearly as time goes on. I look at Ruby sitting over here, bless her heart; this year we will celebrate our 69th wedding anniversary. And so on this day, my heart is filled with gratitude for the blessings that I have received and for the influence that the Church has had upon me and my life, with Ruby by my side, and for the sons that we have raised, Bruce and Robert, and our daughter, Karen, and their families. I can also see in my mind’s eye at this time, not only here in Utah but in California and in Texas and in North Carolina and in Boston, great-grandchildren in front of the television. And they’re probably saying, “That old guy up there is Grandpa. He’s kind of looking old, isn’t he? But he’s our grandpa.” And to all of them I express my love and gratitude.
As I get older and as I look back upon the world and upon the life that I have lived, I sense that it is the love that we share and the service that we render that really is the great payoff.
Some years ago, near the end of a plane trip that I was on on an assignment, the stewardess came along asking what we wanted as a refreshment, as a drink. And I told her that I would take a 7-Up or some lemon drink.
As she brought it to me and handed me the drink, she noticed my tie pin. And on my tie pin, which I have here in my hand—we were using these in the Scottish Mission years ago—there was the crest of the royal family of England. But in the center of that crest we had emblazed the London Temple. And so on this tie pin was the temple with that crest around it. As the stewardess handed me the 7-Up, she said, “My, that’s an unusual tie pin. What is on it?”
And I said, “That’s a temple.”
And this young lady said, “A temple? A temple of what?”
And I said, “A temple of the Lord.”
And she said, “A what?”
And I said, “It’s a temple of the Lord.”
And I could see some interest in her, and she said,”What church do you belong to?”
I told her of our Church, and then I said to her, because I could see there was some interest, “If you will give me your name and address, I will have some young men come by and call on you, and they will tell you about this temple and about temples.”
She looked at me rather strangely and walked away. Then in a few moments, she came back and handed me a little slip of paper with her name, Penny Harryman, with a Los Angeles address.
I called the mission president and I told him, as we always do, “Send two of your best. I want you to go out and visit with this young lady,” because I had said to her, “I’ll have some young men come and see you, and if you do what they will ask you to do and listen to them, I promise you that you can have the greatest blessings that could come into your life.”
A little over a year later, a telephone call came into my office one day, and a girl’s voice said, “My name is Penny Harryman. Do you remember me?”
And I said, “Of course I do.”
She said, “Could you arrange to marry my fiancé and me in the Salt Lake Temple if we could arrange the time?”
I said, “Of course I would.”
And while I was sealing this young lady to this young man that she had met during that course of events, I found that her mother was walking around Temple Square in Salt Lake wondering what we were doing to her daughter in the temple, because she wasn’t permitted to be there.
As time goes on, it is the love that we give and the service that we render that becomes so important in our lives.
Following the Resurrection, we all know of those appearances that the Savior made—one of them was when He met with Peter and the fishermen on the shores of Galilee. It was evidently very early in the morning, and He called out and asked them if they were having any success. They said no, and He told them to cast the nets on the other side. And then in that account which is so beautifully recorded by John, they drew the nets in and there were lots of fish.
The Savior was there. There was a fire, according to John’s account, and they ate fish and honeycomb or bread. And on that occasion, the Savior said to Peter, “Son of Jonas, lovest thou me more than these?” (John 21:15; see John 21:1–17). Undoubtedly He had pointed to those fish that were probably still jumping there in the net.
“Lovest thou me more than these?” They were poor. They could take the fish and sell them, sell them for money, do something with them.
Peter said—indicating that the Savior knew all things—“Thou knowest that I love thee.” And the Savior said to Peter, “Feed my lambs” (John 21:15).
Then the second time, the Savior said to Peter, “Lovest thou me?” and Peter then was grieved because the Savior had asked him the second time, and the Savior said, “Feed my sheep” (John 21:16).
Then the third time He asked him, “Lovest thou me? … Feed my sheep” (John 21:17).
What are we doing? In attempting to prove to the Savior on this day which is so precious to all of us, when we celebrate, preach, and teach of the Resurrection and of the Savior breaking the bands of death, what are we doing and how do we demonstrate to the Savior the love we have for Him? Wouldn’t it be through our obedience and through our service and what we do with the time that we have?
I had an interesting letter the other day from a stake president down in the Phoenix, Arizona, area. He asked if I could arrange to come down sometime, and he’d arrange for a fireside. He wanted me to talk to the “snowbirds.” He pointed out that hundreds of people, “snowbirds,” fly into Arizona in the wintertime, coming from various parts of the United States to settle down there during the winter months. And he said, “They’re retired now, wonderful people, well qualified. They come, and are now in the wards.” If you’re a snowbird, you know, you can spend part of the time in Arizona and part of the time somewhere else, and so you’re sort of free to do what you’d like to do.
Let me just remind all of you of the great need we have out in the world as the missionary program moves forward for couple missionaries to help strengthen the branches and the stakes throughout the world as we bring more people into the Church.
You all have probably heard much about the story of what happened in Mongolia when Ken Beesley was there and helped the government in establishing an institution of higher learning, teaching them about curriculum and administration, and in so doing he started opening the door for the Church.
You have also probably heard of President Gary Cox and his wife, Sister Joyce Cox, who were called to go there as missionaries and then as mission president and of the wonderful service that they rendered.
And then came Dr. John Bennett and his wife, Carolyn, who had served in Mongolia and who told of when they thought they were going to be called to the Canary Islands, because someone there had invited them to come, but when their mission call came it was to Mongolia. They were astonished. I read some of their comments later on, of what had happened to them in Mongolia, all of the lives that they touched and the service that they rendered. And even though back home they’d had a brother die and they’d had children be married and have receptions, they said, “We were able to keep in touch with them by telephone while this was all going on.”
Think of what has happened in Mongolia now, where we have some 1,300 members and nine branches.
I think also of Brother Ken Woolstenhulme and his wife, Sister Karren Woolstenhulme, from up in Oakley, Utah, who wanted to go out somewhere where the action was, and they were sent to Perth, Australia. They are now in a little branch more than 300 miles north of Perth, up in an area where they write and tell of the excitement that has come into their lives as they watch and are part of the development of the Church in that part of the world.
If you’re retired and wondering what to do with those extra years, there’s a world out there of excitement. I think of Talmage Nielsen here in Salt Lake City, a retired doctor, and his wife, who served missions in both South America and in Frankfurt, Germany, helping us there with medical problems, as well as assisting with medical problems in Russia. After being home long enough to kiss the grandchildren hello and good-bye, they were then called to serve in Hawaii, where he was director of the visitors’ center. I know the great time, experience, and blessings that they have had serving together in these three missions.
When I talked with him recently, I said, “Now what are you going to do with the rest of your life?”
And he said, “Well, I’m 72.”
And I said, “You’re 72? Well, I have 20 years on you! And when I think of what has happened to me in the last 20 years, Talmage, think of what you can still do as you go out into the world.”
I leave you my witness, my testimony, that the gospel is true, that God lives, that He is our Father, and that in some miraculous way He reaches our hearts and our consciences regarding the truthfulness of this work. We sense it, we feel it, and we feel of His love and His mercy regarding all of us.
May we live the principles of the gospel. May we use our time effectively, all of the time that we have, I humbly pray as I leave you my love and my witness of the truthfulness of this work in the name of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, amen.